You may well love dressing up, going out, and dancing around in your highest heels as much as the next girl, but it’s hard to deny that sometimes there is nothing better in the world than exploring National Trust gardens in your wellies, eating an inordinate amount of cheese, and sinking into a bubble bath with a glass of wine. So scampering off for a thoroughly middle-aged adventure with one of my favourite partners in crime (and cheese, and wine) for the weekend was an excellent idea on her part.
We booked ourselves in to a National Trust-owned converted coach house loft apartment with a key to the gardens at Peckover House in the Cambridgeshire town of Wisbech. The description of Peckover House on the National Trust website is of “a hidden gem”; an “oasis hidden away in an urban environment”, and when we explored Wisbech we understood why. If you want to go to a nice town, where you won’t see people urinating in public in the middle of the day, then perhaps don’t visit Wisbech. At this point we aborted our exploration and practically ran back to our little National Trust sanctuary, where there was beauty and calm, and the people were friendly (and wearing pants). Who needs access to a pub anyway? We had a lot of fun with the fauna and flora on offer. Yes, you heard me: we had a lot of fun with plants.
If you’ve never been in an orangery in the middle of winter before then you might not quite understand why we were so excited. Walking into a fragrant greenhouse filled with citrus hues and a miniature jungle of fresh green foliage, in December, was like walking into a summer holiday in the Mediterranean.
When I’m grown up I would like a giant greenhouse to play in, please. But as much fun as plants undoubtedly are, we were happy to find some four-legged friends too.
The inside of Peckover House was equally lovely, especially as the smell of mince pies cooking was wafting up from the Georgian kitchen and two elderly gentlemen were performing a duet of Christmas songs with a piano and violin. Feeling thoroughly festive, we headed back to the loft to crack open some wine, have a bubble bath, polish off a block of Wensleydale, and watch Strictly Come Dancing in our pyjamas. (We’re so, so cool.)
Only one National Trust adventure per weekend just isn’t enough for us crazy kids, so we popped into Wimpole Hall Estate on the way home on Sunday. We were, erm, moderately excited to find that Wimpole Home Farm had resident donkeys, pigs, shire horses, goats, sheep, Shetland ponies, and a cat named Gina who spends her time sleeping on the shelves in the National Trust shop. (There’s only one thing better than a National Trust shop – a National Trust shop with a cat.)
All in all, a thoroughly excellent weekend!